It comes down to one game. Today at 3pm, the Rangers take on the Flyers in Philadelphia to decide who will get in the playoffs and who will go home early. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in regulation, overtime, or in the shootout, the team that comes away with two points today will get a chance to continue their season against the Washington Capitals.
Neither team can claim an advantage in today’s game. The Rangers hold a 3-2 season series lead, and have won their last two match-ups between the two teams, but as Friday’s game showed, the margin of difference is slight.
Despite playing with the disappointing Brian Boucher in net, the Flyers took it to the Rangers behind the play of captain Mike Richards, and only a fine piece of individual work by Marian Gaborik and a save or two by Henrik Lundqvist separated the Rangers from keeping their season alive and oblivion. It was just Gaborik’s second goal against the Flyers in thirteen games.
The biggest Flyer killers for the Rangers won’t be dressing for today either. Steve Valiquette was sent down earlier in the season and will not be in the game today. The veteran back up has an impressive 4-1-1 record against Philadelphia with a .939 save percentage and a 1.65 goals against average. Certainly more impressive than Henrik Lundvist – 12-7-2, .899 and 9.29.
Sean Avery too will be out of the line-up, still recovering from a knee injury a week or so ago. Avery has 8 goals in 18 games as a Ranger versus the Flyers, the next best is just three goals by Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Chris Drury, Vaclav Prospal and Michal Rozsival. Dan Girardi leads all Rangers in points against the Flyers with 15 assists in 23 games.
It’s clear if the Rangers are to win today, they’ll need a better effort from Lundqvist, and they’ll need some help from players who haven’t necessarily had a lot of success against the Flyers.
Here’s hoping for a big game for the good guys.
RANGERS BABY RANGERS!!!